Calm your mind and body with these 5 easy tips. Positive coping skills to use when anxiety or anger overwhelms you.
As someone who used to struggle with anxiety on a daily basis, I know what it feels like to feel overwhelmed and unnerved all of a sudden. It can cause panic, the urge to flee your current situation, or an all out ‘crawl out of your skin‘ feeling. Not pleasant in the least and not very conducive to having an enjoyable, productive day.
I’ve learned, however, that you don’t need to succumb to anxiety (or even anger if that’s more of an issue for you!). There are easy ways you can calm yourself down that don’t require you spending a fortune to get a massage or making an emergency appointment with your therapist. If we’re being realistic, it’s ESSENTIAL to have a few positive coping skills in your back pocket for those moments when stress or anxiety can feel overwhelming.
So whether you’re feeling a surge of anger rise within you or a wave of anxiety wash over you, these are 5 tips that are quick, easy, and effective for calming yourself.
5 Easy Ways to Calm Yourself Down
Tuning in with your breath is an instantaneous way to calm yourself. It centers you, brings you back to reality, and physically slows your body down. This is a technique my mom taught me when I was a little little kid (maybe 5?). I’ve always been anxious/intense about things and my mom was able to pick up on that when I was very young. So she always encouraged me to do breath work or even just take a few deep breaths.
When you engage in deep breathing a message is immediately sent to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.
If you have an Apple Watch, you can use the Breathe app and actually see the quantitative evidence that breathing deeply slows down your heart rate and calms your body/mind.
This is a go-to for me. Sometimes being inside feels so restrictive and the walls seem like they’re closing in when you’re hit with anxiety. But changing your environment and getting out into the fresh air and bright light immediately makes you feel more at ease. Nature is tranquil and even if it means standing in your backyard for a few moments…it can make all the difference.
Take your shoes off, let your feet feel the grass, and take in the cool, fresh air. If you can, try to find water to be around. Water is meditative and can be very calming to look at and listen to.
If you’re up for it, try to do some movement outdoors as well. Movement ALWAYS makes me feel better and doubly so if it’s outdoors. So if you hate the gym or being there just makes you more frustrated (sometimes the case for me!), get outside to move your body. Whether that’s yoga, a hike, a walk in the neighborhood, or a run…moving outside can be a game changer.
Do a guided meditation
I know, I know…meditation is easier said than done. For me, it’s ALWAYS been challenging. But I find, like most things, it’s a practice and really does get easier the more I do it. Meditation is the last thing you want to do when you’re in an anxious state. For me it’s incredibly tough to ‘clear my mind’. But as with most self-care techniques, it takes practice.
I am a big fan of the Calm app. You can download it in the app store and select the meditation you’d like to do. There are different soothing sounds and different voice guided ones to choose from. The different meditations focus on all sorts topics; anything from confidence boosters to self compassion.
The best part is you get to set the amount of time you want to meditate for. Anywhere from 2 minutes to 30! I have to admit, I am only able to get a real meditation in for about 10 minutes at this point…and even that took a lot of work!
After that my mind starts bouncing around from thought to thought again. But I’m getting better and I like that this app allows you room for improvement. You can also set it on a timer if you’d like to use it as a sound machine to fall asleep to. I am partial to the wave and rain sound settings. A lot of these functions are FREE too.
I often have racing thoughts at night as well; not necessarily anxious thoughts but just thinking about things I have to do, etc. So listening to a guided sleep meditation or my favorite sleep podcast, Sleep Cove (totally FREE) is super helpful for clearing my mind or really focusing it on one thing as opposed to the million directions it’s usually going in.
I am a HUGGER. If you meet me for the first time, chances are you’re going to get a hug. I think hugs are a wonderful form of connection…but also they really do make you feel good. On a physical level, hugging helps you feel close and connected to people you care about. On a scientific level, hugging releases oxytocin, a chemical in the body known as the “bonding” hormone. Oxytocin helps generate the feeling that others are there to help in the face of adversity, anxiety, or anger.
And hugging can still be effective even if you’re alone…hugging YOURSELF is a thing. But maybe not in the way you think.
I was first introduced to this technique by a therapist friend of mine. If you’ve never heard of it, the Butterfly Hug is a form of bilateral stimulation that people can use to relax and calm them self when they need to do so. Using this tapping technique you can induce a sense of safety and empower yourself to self-comfort. The more you do the more resilience you build to resist disturbing feelings that may come up on a daily basis. Here’s a guide on how to use this technique.
Use a weighted blanket
I was SO skeptical about these when they first became super popular, but once I tried one for myself I totally got the hype. I even got my dad and my DOG, Olive, hooked too. 😉
Placing your body under a weighted blanket and just sitting for a few moments can really help you feel secure, comforted, and calm. They are also great for sleeping under. I’ve never slept more restfully than when I am under my weighted my blanket. Fun fact: Olive, who is a CRAZY hyper whippet, always calms down immediately as well when I place my weighted blanket on her.
I hope you’ll be able to use some of these tips next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed!
Do you consider yourself a calm person or somewhat of a ball of stress?
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